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Making All Public Higher Education Free
By Bob Samuels
President, University of California-American Federation of Teachers
Lecturer, University of California at Los Angeles
To download this paper, please click here.
Great idea, Bob. By the way, do these comments display?
This is very inspiring work.
Very common sense. You make the case for how close we currently come to funding the amount that would be required to make public higher education free. It might be useful to touch on the military spending budget, which far exceeds the cost to make it free as well…
Good point on the military spending. It would also be instructive to follow the money on this issue in another way–how much in profits have edu-businesses made because students don’t access to the well-funded, reasonably-priced colleges?
I agree with the idea of looking at wasteful military spending.
This paper also makes me think about how really dysfunctional the current financial aid system is and what might happen if it was reorganized in a more rational way. . . . For instance, what if much of the money now granted to students so that they can pay the high tuitions of private career college instead was use fund compehensive and sound career education programs at our public comminity colleges? I’d also like to see us think about some kind of social value budgeting in higher education, a system where institutions educating the most underprepared and less well-off students are funded via an enriched formula compared to institutions that educate the elite.
What a thought. We already spend the money; do it more efficiently and effectively and end up with free public higher ed. I like the idea of following the money that moves into the for profits who syphon off public dollars and leave our students with staggering debt.
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Free HE for all is not only a laudable goal, it is required by various human rights documents ratified by the US and other countries.
However, I do not see how this reasoning (math) can possibly achieve it because it ignores the fact the the total cost of the current institutional model for HE is 2 to 4 times the total of tuition, room and board. If you want a better idea of the total cost of the institutional model (universities and colleges) look to the tuition charged by private institutions.
If the CFHE and Samuels are interested in making HE free then alternative models for the provision of HE are required, models that reduce the more accurate total cost of HE which includes all public appropriations (e.g., those for operations and capital expansion).
I am developing two such model. I invite the CFHE and Samuels to examine them (see website link above, particularly, “A New Tender for the Higher Education Social Contract.”). These are entrepreneurial models that do not reply on expensive institutional employers/service providers which cannot be sustained and certainly cannot be supported by the numbers provided in this working paper.
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